Daniella Ponticelli was starting to get into sports when she was watching a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association playoff game and heard two women broadcast the game. That was the moment Ponticelli decided he wanted to start making play by play. Two years later, he was on the call for the WFTDA playoff games.
“I was surprised that there were women on the call,” says Ponticelli. “I really hadn’t been exposed to that before. Something in me clicked and there was a moment when I said to myself, ‘I want to do that. I don’t know why that thought occurred to me, but it set the wheels in motion. “
By this time, Ponticelli had already graduated from university with a degree in journalism. He never intended to pursue sports media while in school, but that began to change after he joined a roller derby league in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Having worked in broadcast media and getting comfortable in front of a microphone, Ponticelli was asked to do internal announcements on the runway and she made a huge impression. When the team traveled to Philadelphia for an All-Star event, Ponticelli was asked to make the trip and play play-by-play for the team.
These days, Ponticelli can be heard making play by play for the University of Saskatchewan Women’s Ice Hockey Team, along with Katie Brickman, for the 2021-22 season. Ponticelli and Brickman are part of a broadcast team with Pattison Media, the first private broadcast company to commit to broadcasting an entire season of games for a varsity women’s hockey team in Canada.
“We are delighted to be working so closely with the University of Saskatchewan Athletics Department,” says Wray Morrison, Senior Host / Producer for HuskieFAN and Partnership Coordinator with Pattinson Media. “These athletes deserve large crowds, many scholarship opportunities, and a lot of media attention. Giving more coverage to the players who deserve it is very rewarding. The caliber of the game in women’s hockey is fantastic and it would be great to see other women’s college programs in Canada get this kind of exposure. “
Morrison also believes Ponticelli is a perfect fit for the position with his broadcast talent and his ability to get fans excited.
“Sometimes I feel overwhelmed thinking about the confidence that has been given to me to take on this role,” says Ponticelli. “This season is not the first step, but it is the next step to attract more people to the world of sports broadcasting. This is something new for them and it is also new for me ”.
With any new job, new challenges arise, but Ponticelli is no stranger to change. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Ponticelli and her family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba when she was 10 years old. When they arrived in Winnipeg, a local television news crew was present to interview the family.
“I still remember the name of the reporter, Jennifer Rattray,” says Ponticelli. “She interviewed us and I thought it was for the best.”
As fate would have it, 15 years after that interview, Ponticelli would get a job at the same station where Rattray worked. Ponticelli searched the station’s archives and found images of her and her family arriving in Winnipeg.
Being interviewed by Rattray when he was 10 years old marked the beginning of Ponticelli’s journalistic career, similar to how watching that WFTDA playoff game marked the beginning of his broadcasting career.
After making play-by-play for the All-Stars event in Philadelphia, Ponticelli had officially caught up with sports, eventually taking a position covering Saskatchewan Rush Lacrosse, despite being unfamiliar with the sport. But she learned quickly and continued working as a secondary reporter for Rush until the beginning of the COVD-19 pandemic.
Since entering sports media, Ponticelli has had to work full-time in news and broadcast part-time at the same time. Spending much of 2020 and 21 reporting on the pandemic, Ponticelli eagerly awaited the day when he could return to the arena and resume his passion.
With the wait now over, Ponticelli is excited to see what awaits her in the future in broadcasting, but knows it’s important to reflect on how she got to where she is. She hopes that one day, a young woman hears her call a Huskies game, and she, too, realizes that it is possible for her.
“I think back to that moment during the WFTDA playoff game when I saw someone in that role that I could relate to,” says Ponticelli. “He showed me that this was totally possible and that I have a path there.”
Michael Rosen is a contributor to Good sport, a media company dedicated to increasing the visibility of women and girls in sport.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.